A huge challenge I have with this practice is trying to be excited about it with old friends and new acquaintances. One of my strengths used to be making people feel comfortable with who they are so they can relax and enjoy themselves in difficult situations. Now it seems that I’m the uncomfortable, insecure, uptight one and I’m not completely sure why. This post is about figuring it out.
My life has always been about finding the next adventure. I’ve challenged myself in so many way and each time it seems exciting. For some reason, Vipassana seems more like rehab or a boring club when I talk about it with people. I’m just going to start listing reasons why I feel this way and explaining to myself why that’s silly.
1) I’ve never been so humbled in my life. So many aspects of life that I was convinced were true are slowly being dissolved. This can be a serious blow to the self-confidence but I should actually be motivated that I’m building a stronger more truthful foundation to face the world with. Truth breeds confidence. Check!
2) Based on my previous definition of fun, this is almost the exact opposite. Don’t drink, don’t get carried away with anything (maintain equanimity!), spend two hours a day sitting by yourself in silence, focus on the breath or sensations for a couple of hours. Really? How do you make that fun for a bunch of people from the MTV generation? I just feel silly trying to be excited about focusing on the breath for 3.5 days and maintaining silence for 9. After 2.5 years of practice I haven’t convinced one person to take a 10 day course. I used to be able to convince troubled kids that moving rocks from one pile to the next was fun so what’s different about this? I think I’m focussed on the wrong things. I’m trying to get people excited about meditation instructions when I should be getting them excited about the experience. People don’t enjoy reading a football playbook. They enjoy feeling the energy of the crowd. You don’t need to explain why a football game is fun to watch. You just have fun doing it and people are drawn to the energy of the experience. While it sounds strange, I haven’t found anything that’s as engaging and stimulating as being deep in meditation but there I go again trying to explain something that needs to be experienced (teaser alert!). I need to live like I’m on the biggest adventure of my life and it should be easy because I am!
3) The old religion cloak. I’ve had so many christians try to convert me to their religion by motivating me to take the “leap of faith” that I’ve been turned off by anyone talking about how great their faith is. Now I feel like the shoe is on the other foot. I spend a lot of time and energy on my practice and it’s currently the most important thing in my life so I’m stuck either preaching my practice or not being excited about anything. This one is tricky. I guess I need to take a cue from #2 and just be happy about where I am and what I’m doing. When people are curious, they’ll ask, and I should feel comfortable and happy to share honestly. If they don’t ask I can still focus on enjoying whatever is going on around me. Just focus on bringing a positive attitude and not worry about the rest. It’s worth a shot.
4) Can I still be excited about the things I used to enjoy like watching movies, playing games, making awesome Halloween costumes, backpacking, and trying to become an astronaut? This equanimity thing is tricky. I’ve definitely discovered that I’m less interested in these sensual pleasures than I used to be but I can’t meditate every hour of the day either. When I think of it, it wasn’t those activities by themselves that I enjoyed but sharing them with awesome people. If I try to focus on the connections I’m making with people rather than the actual activity I think I can create a win-win situation.
Well, all of these things are easier said than done, but at least I said them. Time to have fun meditating!